Myth of the $12 Doritos Ad

One of the best advertisements from the 2007 Superbowl was the the Doritos ad linked above. It’s clever, it made me laugh, and while I won’t eat Doritos anytime soon, I’m likely to remember it. The Doritos commercial was not made for $12 as noted on Fred Wilson’s A VC. You can’t even buy a CVS disposable video camera for $12, so already someone is in for more than $12 in gear. There’s no video editing suite with a sub-$12 price tag, unless you discount the $1500 purchase price of a Mac when considering iMovie. The car driven in the ad cost someone more than $12. So at best you could say the kids who made the video shelled out $12 of their own money, but someone paid several thousand dollars for gear and an education to get the college kids to the point where they only needed to spend $12 to make a commercial.


  1. Right, because there’s no open-source video editing software out there.
    “If you didn’t pay for it, it must be stolen.”
    It was a good argument — right up to that point.

  2. That Silly $12 Dorito’s Commercial – What Goes In Your Budget?

    This year’s Superbowl watch as much for the ads as for the sport (well by some anyway) was sadly lacking in that memorable stand out commercial that we all end up talking about. The fact of the matter is that…

  3. Art: I’m well aware of open source editing solutions. What I’m not aware of is any open source editing solution capable of creating that commercial. And I never indicated that anything was stolen – someone footed the bill (parents, the school, a friend).

  4. regardless of just the editing system used, so many things that go into a production which a professional would need to be accountable for, were left off their list that calling it a $12 commercial is a joke.

  5. Hi guys, i just wanted to first off thank you for the kind comments regarding our commercial, the response has been so humbling!
    Our reasoning behind listing the ad budget as $12.75 was because this was the cost that was incurred as a direct result of producing this spot. We have a G5 with Final Cut Pro, a JVC HD-100 and a few other things to help us along but these were all given to us or purchased before we even knew about the Doritos contest. I’m fairly certain that if a major production studio produced 10 ads that each had a budget of $200,000 and they had a $100,000 camera, that they wouldn’t include that cost in every single ad’s listed budget, as it wouldn’t be a cost incurred as a direct result of the particular ad, being that it was only a one-time occurence. I could be wrong about this point, but it’s what makes the most sense to me (and it’s the reason we mentioned the budget the way we did). We certainly weren’t trying to misrepresent ourselves in any way, it was simply our take on the situation.
    Regardless, we’re all honored to even be where we are, and we’re so thankful for the folks out there supporting us and our work.
    Thanks again!
    -Barrett Phillips

  6. Jake,
    I’m with you. Just a social commentary that, too often, the perception is that it has to be paid for. Like building a PC from spare parts, or bringing it life with Linux.
    Not a $12 add, though. I agree.

  7. I disagree with you Jake. You know your camera cost somewhere around $3K. Final Cut Pro doesn’t cost just a couple of bucks nor the G5. Add to that the knowledge necessary to use Final Cut. If you’re planning on getting into any business and you don’t account the costs of your equipment, you’re eventually looking at bankruptcy.

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